Barbara McClatchie Andrews’ death is so far a mystery, but the artist has left a digital trail of breadcrumbs.
She was an open book on the Internet — a book filled with engaging photographs and revealing comments.
McClatchie Andrews had recently perfected her online portfolio, and was active on social media.
In July, she posted on Facebook some preliminary still-life images, complaining that the work felt static, and expressing hope that trips to Colorado and Vancouver would help her “shake something loose.” Her privacy settings allowed anyone to see her timeline.
The next month, McClatchie Andrews posted compositions of late-summer foliage from Galiano Island, British Columbia.
On Aug. 30, McClatchie Andrews shared a link to her newly updated website, a well-organized portal to 13 colorful, dreamlike galleries, reflecting nature, urban streetscapes, and nudes. She seemed to be obsessed with shimmering light and translucent surfaces. There is nothing on the website that’s not worth pausing to take in.
McClatchie Andrews, 74, lived in Mérida for 10 years, but was found strangled Friday morning on the highway outside Hacienda Teya. Her friends and neighbors have been on social media all weekend wondering how such a generous and thoughtful artist could have met such a tragic and violent end in a city known for peace and safety.
She was likely returning to Mérida from the Cancun airport. Robbery would have been a presumed motive, yet she was found with jewelry and her professional camera.
Aside from her extensive portfolio and essays, in Mérida the photojournalist leaves behind a gallery at her home on Calle 60 at 73, five blocks south of the main square. In La’kech — “My Other Self” in Maya — promoted her own abstract work and the work of others.
One exchange on Facebook offered a small clue about how McClatchie Andrews accepted and embraced her surroundings.
At the gallery in June, she planted a palm tree on the narrow sidewalk outside her front doors. “Wanna take odds on the kids destroyin it????” she posted, adding later that neighborhood youths habitually rip apart trees she’s planted there.
“Then why don’t you set up a hidden video camera if you’re so interested in catching them,” came one reply.
“I’m not,” came her response.